Topeng Blantek: Theatrical Performance Without Text

Betawi culture has various styles and arts. It because Betawi is a tribe consisting of people who come from inter-ethnic marriages. Betawi people are known to have a high creativity motivation which is reflected in one of their traditional arts, namely Topeng Blantek.

In ancient times, the mask dance blantek was often performed at night, to entertain the people and the Dutch colonists. At that time, there were not many dance performances like the Jaipong dance. However, at the blantek mask performances, sometimes dances were also displayed. The dances that are most often performed are mask dance and yapong dance. The Blantek mask show is always accompanied by several musical instruments. Its distinctive feature is the Betawi tambourine musical instrument.
The origin of the name blantek comes from the words “blank” and “text” which means without text. However, there are also views from several Betawi figures and cultural figures regarding the word blantek which is the sound of the rebana biang, which when combined with musical instruments made of wood, will produce the sound of 'blang and tek'.

According to Betawi culturalist Yahya Andi Saputra, the blantek mask is part of Betawi theater. The name of the blantek mask was given because the mask performance used to use tools, such as tambourines and wood. If the prickly tambourine sounds “blang” and the wood sounds “tek” it becomes blang tek or blantek. Therefore, it is called blantek mask.

The Blantek mask performance does not use text. None of the actors read the text before or during the performance. However, it is the creativity of each actor that becomes the main factor in creating dialogue, while still dividing tasks based on the theme of the story in the show.

The name “topeng” (mask) is taken from Jantuk's character who always wears a mask in every appearance. Several blantek mask studios in the 1990s also had popular stories that told of Betawi legend figures such as Si Pitung, Jampang, Nyai Dasimah and others.

Rebana Biang as Accompaniment Tool
The tambourine is a large percussion instrument. However, its existence is increasingly fading due to its quite difficult manufacture. This makes the rebana (tambourine) biang no longer used in blantek mask performances. At first, the blantek mask used to use a tambourine, namely a large tambourine. In the past, each performance used a tambourine. However, over time and the shifting use of the tambourine, other percussion instruments took their place, such as gongs, drums and others.

In other areas around the Jakarta area, such as Bogor, there is also the cultural art of blantek masks. However, the art of blantek mask in the city of Bogor is generally used as a propaganda medium to spread the teachings of Islam. Coupled with songs with Islamic nuances. While songs that are included in the entertainment category, one of which is Jali-jali.

The Existence of the Blankek Mask
The art of blantek mask dance came after Betawi mask art and lenong were popular among the public. At that time, the art of lenong was entertainment for the nobles. Meanwhile, the blantek mask is entertainment for the lower middle class. Because of that, blantek mask was born to be a universal art, which responds to the gap between the two cultures. Nevertheless, the cultural art of blantek masks is one of the people's entertainment originating from Betawi traditional culture.

The Important Elements in the Blantek Mask Show
In the beginning, the art of blantek masks involved the use of torches which were used as lights because they were displayed at night. The torch is always used by the Jantuk character, who is an important actor in the blantek mask performance. Its characteristic lies in its character, which is the actor who gives the conclusion at the end of the fragment.

In addition, in past blantek mask performances, Jantuk always brings sundung, because in the past, the Jakarta area was an area that mostly consisted of agriculture and plantations. Sundung is used by farmers in Betawi, in the form of traditional farmer tools used to weed grass.

Now, sundung is only placed on the stage as one of the characteristics of the blantek mask performance. There are three pairs of sundung used in the blantek mask performance. Basically, Jantuk, sundung and torch are three important parts in the blantek mask performance, which adds to the 'cultural and religious' atmosphere. Jantuk's figure in the blantek mask art performance is a symbol of religious advisors as well as a distinguishing element between the blantek mask art and other Betawi theaters. He emphasized the beginning and end of the story in the form of dialogue.


“Manusia tanpa cita-cita adalah mati. Cita-cita tanpa kerja adalah mimpi. Idaman yang menjadi andalan adalah kebahagiaan.”
- Ali Sadikin -
Gubernur DKI Jakarta 1966 - 1977
“Emang rejeki kagak kemane, tapi kalo lo gak kemane-mane mana mau dapet rejeki.”
- H. Benyamin Sueb -
Seniman Betawi